How to be happier

So I’ve finally arrived at my “grand” opening. I’m taking one of the most important steps in a journey towards attempting to be happier; one I started several years ago.

I worked in university student support for fourteen years. I was good at it and it was nice to feel useful (some students even said they couldn’t have done it without me!) However, working full time was leaving me with little energy to do anything constructive after work, and I began to feel unfulfilled, as if my creative skills were atrophying. I was suffering from depression, anxiety and various aches and pains which I now suspect are mild fibromyalgia. At the same time I came across a few books and articles that reckoned it was possible for the average person to have a job s/he really enjoys and looks forward to doing each day. Despite grownups I have mentioned this to tending to say ‘hmmm’ in a way that means that-hasn’t-been-MY-experience, I couldn’t help but be kind of hopeful.

After a lot of self-inventory stuff, it turned out I wanted to do something creative (OMG, what a revelation!) probably involving sewing. I find the mainstream fashion industry inscrutible and slightly terrifying. That road also seemed likely to involve appropriate qualifications and poorly-paid or even unpaid internships. Slowly, concepts such as “slow fashion” and “upcycling” started to filter into my consciousness and I began to see that there are alternatives.

At first, I thought I would just start a commission-based clothes-making business, and I commenced frantically learning about the actual Business stuff (thank you, FutureLearn). Since this would obviously be slow in starting as I build a customer base, I realised I could supplement the idea by selling second-hand clothes that I think have something special. While I wait for people to want things, I can also fill my time by making things they might not know they want yet. You can see these at remakes, a name I chose because none of the fabrics are new or bought specially. There are not many things there yet, but I intend to sew up a storm in the coming weeks!

This brings me on to one of the most important facets of Attic Mirror, sustainability. For a long time I have had a general conviction that we should try not to be wasteful; to recycle and carry reuseable bags. It wasn’t until I was studying a course about sustainable fashion from Creative Skillset and the Ethical Fashion Forum that I realised how much clothing is thrown away. So now, when I am making things, I will try to avoid buying brand new fabrics to use. I am also setting myself the challenge to make use of all the waste I generate – even the sewing thread. I will be blogging about this from time to time, so why not check in to see how I’m getting on? You can also find me on Instagram where I will be flailing about trying to make it work on my decrepit phone (steadfast refusal so far) and (hopefully) showing you some of my more interesting finds.

It’s now two months since I left my office job. So have things improved? I’ve pretty much exchanged one set of stresses for another, and I still have those aches and pains (dammit!), but I am definitely happier.

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